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Cottage Grove City Council: Olsen says he'll seek re-election

Cottage Grove City Council member Justin Olsen, pictured here at a meeting earlier this year, said Monday he would seek another term in November's election. Bulletin file photo.

Cottage Grove City Council member Justin Olsen said this week he will run for re-election this November, becoming the final council incumbent to announce they will file for office.

Olsen, 42, was first elected to the council in 2008 after years of service on city advisory commissions. A regional manager for Brown Shoe Co. and a married father, Olsen said he took his time in deciding to seek a second term this fall.

Mayor Myron Bailey and council member Jen Peterson have both said they will run for re-election. No other candidates have publicly announced their intention to challenge the incumbents. The 2010 council race featured five candidates.

The filing period for municipal candidates opens Tuesday and runs through Tuesday, Aug. 14.

"I'm a dad, and I'm a husband and I have a job that requires me to travel," Olsen said of the difficulty in deciding whether to run again. "There's only so much time in a day, or week, or month, and you have to be very, very aware of balance in all of those roles. I had to be certain that I could commit to the degree that I both want to and need to to do the job well for another four years."

Noisy opposition to some major council initiatives during Olsen's three-plus years on the council - including the city's decision to construct a new city hall and public safety facility - and an increase in the number of contentious council meetings in recent years also gave him pause, he said.

He, like Bailey and Peterson, defended the decision to move forward with building a new city hall as difficult to make but badly needed.

"It was a necessary step and it's part of providing high quality government services, particularly as it relates to the public safety sector," which are critical, he said. "I think people will be aware of it and, actually, I am hopeful that most folks will understand it was a very difficult decision but it was a necessary decision. And I think we made a good decision."

Looking ahead, Olsen echoed statements made during the 2008 campaign in saying a major goal for a second term is to construct a community center or larger interactive aquatic facility. City officials have -- unsuccessfully thus far - searched for a solution to the long talked-about community center proposal, including lengthy discussions with the YMCA over a joint public-private partnership that ultimately fell through.

"I like serving the public," Olsen said. "I really love the work and the city. I enjoy serving my friends, and neighbors and all the residents of Cottage Grove."